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In my last column I told you that I was planning on making a comic book. The wonderful and also the most difficult thing about making comics is that you need both a great story and great drawings. I thought I could do at least one of those things myself. However, with my drawing skills, nobody would be interested in my story. I mean, even my 5-year-old draws better. This meant I had to find someone willing to make a comic with me, and that I needed a clear idea of what exactly I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. In all honesty I did not know that much about the world of comics. I was clueless to all the different things I needed to think about. The only thing that was clear was the fact that I needed an artist.
One of my managers once said to me: “It’s not about what you know, you only have to know where you can get the information.” With that philosophy in mind I started my Google search. I found a column from this guy called Dirk Manning who ran a webcomic named 'Nightmare World'. In his column 'Write or Wrong' on www.newsarama.com (it’s still running!) Dirk explains how he runs his website/company and why he made some of his choices.

Today I think it’s fair to say that Dirk is on his way to stardom, but when he started out he was just a guy with a passion and a good webcomic. In his columns Dirk relates how he made first contact, how he presented himself and so on. It was great to read that someone had already given thought to everything I was thinking about at the time, but I still hadn’t found an artist. Someone told me I should look at this website, deviantart.com. This is a website on which a lot of creative work can be found covering many different disciplines. There are poets, photographers and artists: a big giant potpourri of creative minds. I can tell you there is a lot of talent on that site.

If you are an art lover and you haven’t checked it out, you should really go do so. I found a lot of artists whom I liked and, in my humble opinion, could draw my comic. Nevertheless, I had to make sure they also wanted to work with me, and in hindsight that probably wasn’t really realistic. I mean, some of the guys I sent an e-mail are now working for US comic companies and are getting a regular paycheck. Unfortunately, that is something I simply can’t offer at this moment.  On the positive side, I do have a good nose for talent, but I still had not found an artist.

Deviantart.com is an international website, but I also managed to find some Dutch and Belgian websites where comic talent put up examples of their work. Realizing English is not my first language, I could see some benefits in having a Dutch speaking artist. However, the artists I liked where already working on projects for which they were getting paid to draw. So after a long search I still hadn’t found an artist.

Sometimes, though, you just need a little luck. As I said before, comics are my passion, but I have to work to earn my money. Back then I worked as a municipal official in the department of economic affairs of a large municipality. I had to organize a meeting with two business networking groups and someone told me about this guy called Martijn Aslander. Martijn is a network guru, who has a really unique view about the world. Although I know that I don't do him any justice by this short example, Martin's approach is always, “What can I do for you?” This was also the first question he asked me when we met. I told him about the meeting I had to organize between the two business networking groups, and I asked him if he would like to tell something about his views on networking at this meeting. It was a pleasant meeting and within a few minutes appointments were made.  “Okay”, said Martijn, “ is there anything else I can help you with?”

And there I was. Sitting there in a business meeting (in my suit)... Could I do it? Should I do it? I still hadn’t found an artist, but was this a question I should ask a business relation? Would I disqualify myself if I told him that I wanted to make comic books and was looking for an artist?

I decided to go for it. “Well I am looking for an artist to make a comicbook with me”,  I said. Not really expecting anything I looked at Martijn, who looked at me. Then he turned away and I thought: “Well okay, maybe I shouldn’t have done that.” Martijn was busy doing something with his laptop. “Do you like this?”, he asked and showed me a drawing on his laptop. It was a drawing of a man and and his gold-digger wife.
“Yeah”, I said. I really liked it. There was energy in the drawing. Martijn gave me the e-mail address of the artist and I went back to the office. Had I just found an artist?

Next: Making contact

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Gert-Jan van Oosten, co-founder of Dutch  comic book publisher, Drop Comics, talks about his efforts to find his place on the American/English comics market from across the pond.

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